Helio Castroneves is Redeemed, Makes it Three at Indy

TCorrespondent IIIMay 24, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 24:  Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Team Penske Dallara Honda, celebrates in victory lane after winning the IRL IndyCar Series 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

The road to redemption is paved with sacrifice and hardship.  For Helio Castroneves, his reward for enduring the journey back to what he was meant to do culminated on Sunday with his third Indianapolis 500 victory.

Throughout the month of May, one had to believe the ever happy-go-lucky Brazilian had something special going for him.  First the pole position, then the pit stop challenge victory.  Put the Penske mystique aside and the impartial observer would have to think that this driver was destined to pull it off when it really counted.

Sunday's 500 miles were much like Castroneves' previous seven months of life outside of the cockpit of his Indycar. 

In the beginning, the tide turned on Helio in the form of the one-two punch of the Target Chip Ganassi duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.  The pack was starting to become harder and harder to catch.  Victory seemed to be out of reach.  However, storybook endings are not written without a little adversity.

With a little luck, Castroneves found his way to the lead with 60 laps to go and never looked back.  No one would deny him of his ultimate reward after returning from the unknown of his legal issues, except race control.

Helio's last obstacle on his rise to racing immortality came in the form of a race official trying to hold him back from doing what he is most famous for besides winning races: climbing fences.  There was no force in the world that could Castroneves back from celebrating this great triumph—not even one of Tony George's henchmen.

By joining racing's immortals, Castroneves accomplished far more than putting his name on the Borg-Warner trophy for a third time.  He has come full circle in his road to redemption and has become reborn. 

Next stop on the Helio rebirth tour: an IndyCar championship?